Rimbey gets county windfall

  • Mar. 22, 2011 3:00 p.m.

By CHARLES TWEED / Black Press

Call it what you will, luck of the Irish maybe, but Rimbey looks like a millions bucks today.

At Ponoka County St. Patrick’s Day meeting council gave $500,000 to the Town of Rimbey for its new outdoor pool — but they weren’t finished yet. Council then gave another $500,000 to the Rimbey Agricultural Society for the construction of its new agricultural building.

County council discussed the importance of helping a project that was so distinctly agricultural and fit so well with its mandate and also, the need for funding in a joint community centre that will be used by county ratepayers for many years.

“It’s a good example of agriculture and the focus of Ponoka County is agriculture and at the same time this is a nice bridging area where you have the rodeo right in town limits and you couldn’t look for a better thing to contribute to,” said Coun. Paul McLauchlin speaking on the contribution to the agricultural building. “As is the pool, the facilities are really a bridge for both of  us. So we back those folks 100 per cent and I think this will help them get to where they need to go.”

The news came as a shock to Rimbey Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson and Rimbey Agriculture Society president Stan Goetz.

“Are you serious? You’ve got to be kidding me, $500,000? You’re not BS-ing me are you?” said Goetz. “We were happy when they helped up purchase the land nd now that they’ve stepped up to do this, it’s not good news this is absolutely excellent news — we are on top of the world.”

The conversation with Ibbotson followed a similar route.

“I’m incredibly pleased, a half a million for the pool that’s like a gift from heaven — just give me a minute to think about it — (pause) — that means we are going to save interest and principal payments on half a million dollars — the town is just saving so much money here and it’s incredibly good news,” said Ibbotson.

The town recently hiked taxes three per cent for a variety of reasons. One of them was to generate more revenue to cover the cost of building the new pool. The money means the town will have to borrow only $500,000 to complete the pool project, welcome news to the mayor.

“Over half of our users are county users and they’re part of our community, they’re part of Rimbey. The county recognized that obviously and like I said, this is a surprise. It is really incredible news and it’s really good of them to do it,” said Ibbotson.

It is expected the pool will be completed this summer and the $500,000 contribution matches an earlier donation from the county, bringing its total commitment to a cool million dollars for the project.

While one project gets money to wrap up construction, another is getting money to get construction started.

“It’s going to make everything happen quicker. We just had a meeting last night and were trying to figure out how we could fundraise and get started on it — I would say it is going to happen pretty quick now. It really puts us in a beautiful position,” said Goetz when asked about when a shovel might hit the ground.

Last year, the Rimbey High School Rodeo and Wrangler Rodeo were casualties of rain, something the new arena will help alleviate. The new building should also help Rimbey secure some new and bigger events.

“This facility will be set up so we can hold bigger events and draw more people to Rimbey. We’ll be able to hold some pretty decent shows — with a facility like this we’ll be able to just plan it and not worry about back up plans (in case of rain),” said Goetz.

The money did come with one caveat; Ponoka County council did request its name, as donors, be displayed somewhere throughout the building.

A request both parties were more than happy to oblige.

“That’s not a problem whatsoever. We would be more than delighted to follow that request,” said Goetz. “If I didn’t have to go to work, I think I’d go out and celebrate,” he said with a laugh.